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Rolling Stones: The Best Live Performances on Video


They’re baaaaack! The Rolling Stones, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s longest running major act, is hitting the road again, for the umpteenth time. The Rolling Stones North American tour of 18 shows was kicked off in New York.
Rolling-Stones-currentNow celebrating 50 years as a performing act, the Rolling Stones have played to the biggest audiences in Rock ‘n’ Roll, including a Brazil show attended by more than a million spectators. (Photo: Mark Seliger)

If you can make it, do yourself a favor and see the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band of All Time” while you can. But if you can’t get to the shows, here’s an overview of some of the band’s best performances on video, all of which show why this group has consistently been the most exciting live act in all of Rock music.

Song: “I’m All Right”
Year: 1964
DVD: The T.A.M.I. Show
Why It’s A Classic: James Brown and Mick Jagger compete to see who rules the stage.
The Performance: A classic Rock ‘n’ Roll movie, The T.A.M.I. Show brought together a huge number of top performers. In a moment of heated backstage drama, the Stones were chosen to close the show—a decision that didn’t please master showman James Brown, who taunted the band: “I’m gonna make you Rollin’ Stones wish you’d never left England.” Brown’s set is absolutely amazing; he later claimed he never danced faster in his life. He dances with a vengeance.
Mick-Jagger-and-James-Brown
Not-so-friendly rivals? Jagger had to figure out a way to out-perform James Brown, the greatest showman of the 1960s.

The Stones followed with five songs, finishing with this simple early rave-up. About two minutes in, Jagger settles the song down (despite the full-throttle screams of what sounds like a million teenage girls), then builds it back up, bit by bit. “I’m all right…” he sings over and over, changing the inflections and increasing the intensity each of the 15 times he sings the lyric. Finally, he’s screaming it.
Rolling-Stones-early-riot
Three songs and a riot: The crazy early days, when Rock stars had to run for their lives.

Pretty soon, Jagger’s moving his head as wildly as the maracas he’s shaking. Mayhem ensues and the crowd goes nuts. Jagger couldn’t out-dance James Brown, but he out-performed him all the same. This performance demonstrates the thrilling frenzy the band could generate live. The Stones’ early shows were all the same, according to deadpan drummer Charlie Watts: “Three songs and then a riot would break out.”

Song: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Year: 1966
DVD: The Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: The band’s top track, back when the song was still creating a sensation.
The Performance: It’s a riff that still stops you in your tracks. The opening guitar growl that announces “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is one of the most identifiable and iconic pieces of popular music. The breakthrough song went to Number One (the band’s first) during the boiling hot summer of 1965. It’s all here: the famous fuzz-tone guitar, the snarling attitude, the amazing lyrics—which poke fun at American advertising.
Satisfaction-single
The shot heard ’round the world. 1965′s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” became the group’s breakthrough hit.

This February 13, 1966, performance on the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show did more to introduce this band to American audiences than any other. You can tell the band isn’t lip-synching by guitarist Keith Richards’ harmony singing and the extreme fuzz-tone effect box he was clicking on and off with his boot for the beginning riff and the chorus. See why “Satisfaction” is still the Rolling Stones’ signature song, and why “Rolling Stone” magazine selected the song as the second-greatest Rock song of all time.

Song: “Midnight Rambler”
Year: 1972
DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: Over-the-top showmanship meets gut-bucket Blues in a brutal live version filmed during the band’s peak.
The Performance: By 1972, there was little debate about which was the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world. Any doubts were steamrolled over when video footage from the Stones’ 1972 tour was collected in this 1974 film. The band is in amazing condition and this tour probably represents its peak as a touring unit. Performances like these are why people started calling the Stones the best band in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rolling-Stones-live-1972
By 1972, the Stones were peaking, as Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones clearly proves.

Perennial live favorite “Midnight Rambler” is given a particularly aggressive workout, showcasing the interplay between singer Jagger and drummer Watts. This performance from Fort Worth, Texas, shows the sheer musical power that the Stones can generate, especially when they stretch out on a number, as they do on this 11-minute version, which is almost double the length of the original album cut. Seeing is believing. See it and you will believe…and you will be exhausted.

Song: “Shattered”
Year: 1978
DVD: Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78 (Bonus Feature)
Why It’s A Classic: An early Stones comeback that charted all the other comebacks still to come.
The Performance: By 1978, a lot of Rock fans were giving up on the band, which suffered some creative ups and downs during the 70s. The Stones responded by embracing the two breakout musical genres of the era…Disco and Punk. The album that addressed both styles, as well as the band’s usual roots Rock ‘n’ Roll, was called Some Girls. It remains the band’s biggest selling album and is now generally considered a modern masterpiece and perhaps the band’s final masterwork.
Rolling-Stones-live-1978
The Stones hit Saturday Night Live like a “crossfire hurricane” back in 1978.

The studio audience at Saturday Night Live was primed to see the band in action on October 7, 1978, and the Stones brought the heat. During a manic, dizzying three-song set, the band showed itself to be in fierce condition and taking no prisoners. When the Stones careen into “Shattered” (the pumping final track from Some Girls), the band uses its go-for-broke power to push the set to its logical conclusion. By the end, Jagger is hopping about wildly, like a lab monkey that’s grown addicted to mild electric shocks. This sizzling performance was proof positive that you could never count out the Rolling Stones…and you still never can.

Song: “Happy”
Year: 1991
DVD: Live: At the Max
Why It’s A Classic: Keith pushes it to the limit and demonstrates why he’s a guitar riff-master.
The Performance: Keith Richards is more than just the Stones’ primary rhythm guitarist. He’s also the co-writer of some of the greatest Rock standards of all time, an occasional vocalist and one of music’s most colorful and funniest characters—kind of a mix of a cowboy and pirate. (True: Johnny Depp based his Jack Sparrow on his friend Richards, who even played Sparrow’s father in 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.)
Rolling-Stones-Keith-Richards
Part cowboy, part pirate…all Rocker. Keith Richards “runs the kitchen” for the mighty Stones.

“Happy” is Richards’ personal statement, and what an outlaw anthem it is: “I never kept a dollar past sunset,” he brags. “It always burned a hole in my pants.” About two minutes in he casually yells, “Let’s get out, Ronnie,” to Ron Wood (the Stones’ other guitarist), signaling that it’s time to bring the song home. Which Richards then proceeds to do, with about a minute of blistering lead guitar that demonstrates his ingenuity as one of Rock’s greatest guitar gunslingers.

Still Rolling, Still Ruling
Part of why the Rolling Stones are great is because they still reflect their earliest influences, but another part has to do with the band’s ability to sound fresh. Through its ongoing work with producer Don Was, the Rolling Stones are able to use their mastery of music production skills to keep them at the top of the music business.

Learning music production can help put you at the top of the pop charts, too. But where do you learn music production on the same tools that the pros use? Look no further than Digital Media Academy, which offers cutting-edge music camps for the digital age. DMA’s Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production camp will teach you how to create your own rhythms for Rock, Hip-Hop, Dance, Electronica, Dubstep and other types of music. Plus, campers get to develop bass lines and use MIDI keyboards to make their own tracks. Look out, Mick. The kids are gunning for you.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured,Music Production and have No Comments

Where is America’s New Space Center?


Founded in 1961, Johnson Space Center in Houston was a hub of aerospace activity in the 1960s and 70s. The facility trained the astronauts who first walked on the moon and helped develop the Space Shuttle program. Then Kennedy Space Center at Florida’s Cape Canaveral came online in 1962 and became the epicenter of space exploration during the 80s and 90s. So where is America’s next spaceport?


Virgin Galactic is betting heavily on the future of space tourism with the sleek SpaceShip Two passenger ship. It can reach sub-orbit space. 

The Mojave Air & Space Port sits in the middle of the California desert and it’s already attracting new legions of ambitious young rocketeers and space scientists.

If you want to see where the future takes flight, this is it, approximately 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The Mojave Air & Space Port compound is a former military base that occupies some 3,300 acres and is home to about 100 aircraft hangars. The flat desert terrain provides a great location for the 2-mile-long runway. And there’s lots of room for blasting rockets off into the wild blue yonder.

Look around and you’ll find not only genius scientists but inventors and space engineers of every type. At one end of the spectrum, small groups of rocketeers launching their first DIY experiments. At the other end, well-financed corporations planning how to make space travel (including space tourism) and the further exploration of space into profit-making enterprises that could also help unlock the mysteries of the universe.

NASA’s New Business Model
The Mojave Air & Space Port is a new idea for a tougher economic age. The business of space exploration has changed dramatically lately with NASA’s decision to end America’s space shuttle program. In essence, NASA has been cutting away some of its more expensive programs as a means of making America’s space agency financially leaner and more sound. The space shuttle and its operation was intensive and costly. Although NASA is still sponsoring unmanned explorations (such as the Mars Rover project, and its probe to Venus), the days of U.S. space shuttles transporting cargo and people into space—at least for now—are over.


The Mojave Air & Space Port plays home to deep-pocketed corporations as well as small, passionate groups of DIY rocketeers.

The Mojave Air & Space Port fills that gap by providing a location where all types of corporations and individuals can work on their various space-oriented projects. The concept for the space port was originated by Virgin corporation president, Richard Branson. Branson, a thrill-seeker himself, was attracted to the idea, as were other corporate heads (such as Microsoft’s Paul Allen).

See Outer Space (And Be Back for Dinner)
Each company based at the Mojave Air & Space Port has a stake of some kind in space travel. Branson’s company, for example, plans to be the first to fly space tourists into low-levels of outer space via space shuttle-like craft. These passengers would take off from landing strips on the desert floor and embark on short, multi-hour excursions to the nearest edge of outer space. The ultimate in sight-seeing—a quick trip out of this world and then back down to earth in time for dinner.


Virgin Galactic recently acquired The Spaceship Company (here unveiling a new hangar at the Mojave Air & Space Port), showing its intention of shaping the space-tourism marketplace.

Other companies are busily tinkering with exploration and cargo-transport projects, in hopes of winning contracts with NASA itself. As the agency embraces its new business model, that means that (like many corporations these days) NASA will be outsourcing some of its activities to private space contractors.

Boldly Going to Space Camp 
While the Space Shuttle program may have ended, it’s the dawn of a new age in space exploration. For kids interested in space exploration, space camp is the place to start. At Digital Media Academy’s tech camp, kids learn science and engineering in a fun and creative way. Blasting off water rockets and learning how things work can turn your curious child into an aeronautics engineer. After all, it’s the new generation of discoverers that will lead us into tomorrow…and deeper into the far reaches of space.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog,Science & Engineering and have No Comments

Sound City: Review


The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is a film festival like no other. The festival features films from all walks of life. Including rock n’ roll.
dave-grohl-sound-cityBehind the soundboard at Sound City.

Sound City marks rocker Dave Grohl’s directorial debut. In the film he documents the past four decades of music through the eyes of soundboard on which many 70s and 80s hits were recorded. It’s a melodic journey through pop music history. The classic Neve sound is featured on countless hit records by artists including Steely DanNirvanaPink FloydDire StraitsQuincy JonesGeorge ClintonChick CoreaThe Ataris.

At that time the board “lived” at Sound City, a famous recording studio formerly located in Van Nuys, California, outside of L.A. That’s where the board was when it recorded Fleetwood Mac’s 70s watershed album Rumors, as well as Nirvana’s 90s breakthrough Nevermind. Other artists who have recorded with the board include Classic Rock superstars like Elton John and Neil Young, plus more recent acts, such as Arctic Monkeys and Deathcab for Cutie.

All-Star Jam Session
Sound City is an epic documentary that gives you a unique look into the lives and careers of major artists like Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Trent Reznor and Paul McCartney. Watching Sound City is to be immersed in the evolution of Pop/Rock music all the way up through the present. Not only are these historic artists interviewed, but they also jam and record with Grohl—once again using the famous Neve analog console.

Neve-Sound-City
This rare vintage custom Neve 8078 40-channel deck was originally hand-built by Neve in 1978 for CBS Sony’s main studio in Japan. The console now resides at The Way Recording Studio in London.

Of course, Grohl is not just a chronicler of this history; he’s a significant part of it, too. He first recorded at Sound City as the drummer of the ultimate Grunge band, Nirvana, then later as the lead singer of the Foo Fighters. He witnessed the aftermath of the digital revolution and not only offers a unique look into the music industry, but also provides a stark commentary on the effects of digital media on the arts.

Make Music History Yourself
Music production has progressed pretty significantly over the past few decades. Todays artists are still focused on capturing the perfect sound. Watching Grohl pick through the historic notes in the rock n’ roll documentary Sound City is like learning Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production from inside the studio. One thing’s for certain, no matter what genre of music you’re into you should definitely check out this film.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Will Disney Make a Yoda Movie?


Ever wondered how Yoda became a Jedi master? Or Han Solo’s origin story? You may find out sooner than you think. That’s right, young Jedi. You may find yourself parked in front of movie screen watching a new “Star Wars” movie in the next few years.

Harrison-Ford-returns-as-Han-Solo-in-new-Star-WarsHan Solo and his trusty sidekick from the original Star Wars.

Walt Disney Studios – which purchased George Lucas’ Lucasfilm (including the entire “Star Wars” universe) for $4 billion last year – confirmed in a recent interview that it will not only produce new “Star Wars” sequels, including Star Wars: Episode VII, but other “Star Wars” films as part of the franchise reboot.

Meanwhile, In a Galaxy Not So Far Away…
In an interview with CNBC’s Katie Couric, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger said Disney will distribute “a few” stand-alone films that would not be part of the saga. The news was wholly embraced by “Star Wars” fans who began online predictions about a Yoda or Boba Fett movie.

Disney hasn’t wasted any time getting Star Wars back into theaters. In recent news, the studio named J.J. Abrams to direct the next Star Wars sequel and the studio also killed plans to release 3D versions of the second and third films in the series.

JJ-Abrams-Star-Wars-scene
Eager – and anxious – to see just how J.J. Abrams will put his touch on “Star Wars,” this image, showing Abrams’ signature lens flare, was produced by a fan.

In fact, the first Star Wars spinoff movie is already in development, with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg working on the script. “Star Wars” fans will remember Kasdan from the credits of another “Star Wars” film; he co-wrote Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.

The Boba Fett Movie
“Entertainment Weekly” confirmed that Boba Fett would be the star of one of the stand-alone films. Introduced first in in Star Wars, Boba Fett is the intergalactic bounty hunter who was first introduced in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The new Boba Fett “Stars Wars” film would apparently take place between Empire and Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The movie will chronicle the time between the two films when Boba Fett was delivering Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt. Just who will play the bounty hunter remains unknown…

When Does the Han Solo Movie Come Out?
Industry insiders have reported that Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Han Solo in the stand-alone Han Solo film. “It’s a done deal,” a close industry source told us. Ford, who was last seen onscreen as Han Solo in the original saga, has signed a contract with Disney to play the character that made him a household name.

new-han-solo-movie
Harrison Ford will return to the role that made him a star. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Rumors have also circulated that a younger Han Solo will carry most of the movie. It’s unknown how Disney will handle that. Some have speculated that a younger Han may be computer-generated, much in the same way a younger Jeff Bridges was brought to life in Tron: Legacy.

Fan Films Inspire Filmmakers
Fans have been making their own “Star Wars” stories since the very first one hit theaters in 1977. The film also motivated J.J. Abrams and Iron Man director Jon Favreau to become filmmakers. And for anyone who wants to learn how to make a movie, the “Star Wars” franchise continues to be a huge inspiration.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog and have No Comments

Who will Direct the Next “Star Wars” Movie?


Star Wars fans can breath a collective sigh of relief, Walt Disney Studios has reportedly tapped J.J. Abrams to direct the next “Star Wars” film for the studio. Disney purchased the lucrative franchise from George Lucas for 40 billion dollars in 2012.

Meet the Director
Abrams, the director of “Mission: Impossible III,” and the recent “Star Trek” reboot, is considered by many to be this generations Spielberg. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot is a Hollywood heavyweight, turning out event movies like “Cloverfield” and “Super 8.”

jj-abrams
Director J.J. Abrams will helm “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which hits theaters in 2015.

In November, Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that while the original “Star Wars” and its special effects “blew my mind,” he, declined an offer to helm the first post-Lucas “Star Wars” film. Why? Abrams already has a relationship with Paramount Studios who he will deliver the upcoming “Star Trek: Into Darkness” for on May 18, 2013. Hollywood insiders say if Abrams has signed a deal with Disney it may significantly complicate his relationship with Paramount.

The Power of the Force
The new head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy has been reportedly meeting with several directors including Zack Synder and Ben Affleck to direct the upcoming “Star Wars” film, already slated for a 2015 release.

It’s rumored Kennedy’s relationship with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped bring Abrams onboard. Kennedy, who helped produce the Indiana Jones movies, in addition to “Back to the Future” movies has been a big fan of Abrams and believes he can deliver what fans are expecting. Driving script development for the new “Star Wars” film is screenwriter Michael Arndt, who also penned “Little Miss Sunshine.”

star-wars-space-battle-death-star-super-star-destroyer-tie-fighters
Lucasfilm wrote the book on how to create Hollywood visual effects with ILM and the first “Star Wars” movie.

Abrams, also the co-creator of the popular television franchises, “Alias,” “Lost,” and “Fringe” is a long-time fan of the “Star Wars” franchise, he told Hollywood Life the film “is one of my favorite movies of all time.”

But unfortunately, for any director, “Star Wars” also comes with a lot of baggage, Abrams said this before he got the job: “I frankly feel that — I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big “Star Trek” fan growing up, so for me, working on “Star Trek” didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more [than] anyone to the next iterations of “Star Wars” movies.”

The Next Generation of Filmmakers
Abrams comes from a new generation of filmmakers who are their own PR engine, using ComicCon, Twitter and Reddit AMA’s to engage with fans. They’re making movies with Final Cut Pro and even may have spent a summer at a film camp. For this generation, there are so many ways to make and share films and the results seldom less than amazing.

Personally, we can’t wait to see what Mr. Abrams does with Star Wars…

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Charlie Brown, Snoopy to Star in New 3D CGI Movie


For nearly 65 years children of all ages have treasured the lovable gang featured in the “Peanuts” comic strip. Now, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Woodstock, Lucy, and the rest of the gang are headed to the big screen, thanks to 20th Century Fox Animation.


The gang from one of the world’s most beloved comic strips.

In Development
Blue Sky Studios announced the film through a “Peanuts” Movie Press Release. Details are still being released; so far we know the project will be directed by Steve Martino (“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”) and he will shoot from a script by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.

The film will mark the first time the “Peanuts” gang will be showcased in a full-length film as 3D characters. Craig Schulz, the son of the late Charles M. Schulz, is President of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and working with 20th Century Fox on the movie. “We have been working on this project for years,” he said. “We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film. I am thrilled we will be partnering with Blue Sky/Fox to create a ‘Peanuts’ movie.”


When the comic strip first appeared (the early 1950s), the characters—and their problems—were much simpler.

“Peanuts” and Its Impact
It may be difficult for today’s youth to understand just how much impact “Peanuts” once had on American pop culture. At its peak, “Peanuts” was everywhere.

At one time the comic strip was read by 355 million daily readers (in 75 countries). Then there are the classic holiday television specials—especially 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (soon to be celebrating its own 50th anniversary) and 1966’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Both TV specials became enduring classics and today seeing them is considered a rite of passage and a “must see” each holiday season.


 In theory, the starring character in “Peanuts” is everyman Charlie Brown…

Add to that, the popular “Peanuts” Broadway musicals, ice-skating shows and all types of “Peanuts” merchandise, like toys, calendars, books…and “Peanuts” became a billion-dollar marketing empire way before anyone had ever heard of Spongebob Squarepants…and this was back in the days when a billion was a truly astronomical amount of money.

The 65th Anniversary of “Peanuts”
The 2015 “Peanuts” project will mark the 65th anniversary of the debut of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the 50th anniversary of the landmark television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The first movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” was a major 1969 success and caught the massive wave of popularity that surrounded “Peanuts” during the 1960s and 1970s. The movie franchise carried on with varying success during three sequels: “Snoopy Come Home” (1972), “Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown” (1977) and “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!!!” (1980).


…in reality, however, the star of “Peanuts” has always been Charlie’s pet dog, Snoopy, here assuming the role of a WWI fighter ace atop his airplane (cough)–uh, doghouse.

The gently humorous vision that cartoonist Charles Schulz created has lived on well beyond his death, and shows no signs of going away any time soon. He continues to inspire a new generation of cartoonists and animators and anyone else who wants to learn how draw cartoons.

“Peanuts” remains popular. The comic strip ran without interruption for almost 50 full years, from Oct. 2, 1950 until Feb. 13, 2000. One college professor called that fifty-year run “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being.”


Strip creator Charles M. Schulz turned his gentle humor and simple characters into a vast marketing empire worth more than a billion dollars.

Inspiring the Artist in You
Today, the world of cartooning and animation is light years ahead of what Charles M. Schulz may have envisioned. Kids and teens that want to learn animation or cartooning can attend animation camp, and with tools like Maya and Toon Boom Studio, making a cartoon or learning to become an animator has never been easier.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,Digital Photography,News Blog and have No Comments

Last Minute Tech Gift Ideas


With one more weekend left before the Christmas holiday, retailers and consumers are knuckling down for the final sprint toward the seasonal-shopping finish line. And if you’re like us, you’re more than happy to have an extra shopping weekend (since you’ve still got presents to buy).

Don’t worry, shoppers! We’ve got the gizmos that will keep the technology nerd on your list thinking you spent all year looking for the perfect gift.

Canon PowerShot SX260 Digital Camera
Canon-SX260HS
Take travel photography to the next level; use the SX260 HS GPS image tagging to track your journey on Google Maps. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? The photo blogger who likes to travel
Why Should I Buy It: Exceptional image performance

Canon’s PowerShot SX260 HS offers 12.1 megapixel quality via a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. It also has a powerful 20x Optical Zoom. Add a 25mm Wide-Angle lens, PhotoStitch (which takes photos and turn them into a panoramic image) and GPS image tracking and you’ve got a powerful compact camera. Canons’ optical image stabilizer helps make every shot a winner.

Kindle Fire HD Tablet
kindle-fire-hd-8.9-inch
With a 1.5-Ghz processor and Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics chip, the Kindle Fire HD is able to go toe to toe with the iPad. The $499 Kindle also gives you 16 GB more storage than the iPad, at the same price.

Retail Price: $499
Who’s It For? The Amazon Prime member who hates Apple
Why Should I Buy It: As iPad alternatives go, it’s the best of the bunch.

Want to serve up movies and games beautifully and lightning quick? Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD sports a 8.9-inch display and 4G LTE Wireless. In nerd speak, that’s a dual-band, dual Wi-Fi antenna and a screen that boasts a stunning 1920×1200 HD display. For ebook readers, the tablet has a polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. All this plus free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content, and access to the Kindle library—with more than 22 million pieces of content (only Apple has more)—makes the Kindle Fire perfect for anything.

iPhone 5

The fastest iPhone yet…at least until the iPhone 5S. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? Anyone who still has a iPhone 3
Why Should I Buy It: Aside from a tablet, it’s the most sought-after electronic gadget going this holiday season.

This is the smartphone that changed the game and now steps it up with 4G LTE. The iPhone 5 features a thinner and sleeker design, plus a new 4-inch screen. Returning from the previous version are the Retina display and Siri. But these are just a few of the things that make this iPhone the greatest one yet. It’s backed by the Apple app store, which recently celebrated serving up its 1 millionth app .

Wii U

Nintendo’s latest video-game console combines a variety of technologies into one amazing interactive experience.

Retail Price: $349
Who’s It For? Your kids
Why Should I Buy It: For the under-14 set, it’s the third-hottest tech gift this holiday season.

Wii U takes Nintendo’s Wii to the next level; what the Wii did for motion controllers, this machine does for gaming options. Play with a big-screen TV or game on the Wii U GamePad’s 6.2-inch, 16:9 LCD touchscreen. The Wii U GamePad has motion control, front-facing camera, rumble feature, microphone and stereo speakers! In fact, there are so many bells and whistles on this thing that even Nintendo hasn’t figured out what they’re all for.

Technology Camp
digital-media-academy-technology-camp-at-stanford
Kids learn how to create the future while using the latest technology. 

Retail Price: $695
Who’s It For? Your 10-year-old Steve Jobs
Why Should I Buy It: To give your kid get a head start on creating the future

This Christmas you can give your child the hottest electronic device and hope that they don’t grow out of it. Or you can really put the technology hook into them with a week or more at a technology camp like Digital Media Academy. Think of it—you’re kids aren’t just playing games, they’re making them, and even getting paid to do it. From learning App Development to Programming and more, a week at tech camp could be a life-enriching experience for your kid. And make you the best Santa ever.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Still Playing with Power


The video-game business is a massive industry, and while getting into the biz can seem impossible, you don’t have to be a game designer to work in video games. Take, for example, Chris Slate–the former Editor-in-Chief of “Nintendo Power” magazine.

Chris-Slate-Nintendo-Power-Editor
Former “Nintendo Power” Editor-in-Chief Chris Slate in his home office. (Note the signed Super Mario NES cartridge on the wall, autographed by none other than Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto.) Chris currently is the EIC for “Mac Life.”

Chris works at Future Publishing, based in South San Francisco–a publishing company that has long been associated with the video game business. In fact, they’ve been publishing game magazines since 1985. Future currently publishes the “Official Xbox Magazine” and “PC Gamer,” along with other popular titles, and also runs the video-game website GamesRadar.

This month Future is publishing the very last issue of “Nintendo Power.” The magazine, started in 1988, was published  by Nintendo until Future acquired the rights to publish the magazine in 2007. For fans of of the magazine, the end of “Nintendo Power” is bittersweet.

At DMA Central, we still love magazines and were huge “Nintendo Power” fans, but like most people, we find ourselves spending more and more time on the Web. We recently caught up with Chris to find out what it’s like to work alongside Mario and how you can get into the game industry just by being crazy about games.

How did you get into the games industry?
When I was 16 years old, I bought Issue Two of “Game Player’s” magazine, which was the only video-game magazine for sale at newsstands back then. I was ecstatic to find a magazine that was just about games, since I spent all of my time playing my NES.

In that issue there was a profile of a “Game Player’s” “game tester” named Jonathan Gagnon, who helped the magazine’s writers by playing the games and taking screenshots. His profile mentioned that he went to college in the town I lived in. Since “Game Player’s” was close by, I wrote them a letter hoping that I could join up as a game tester, too. Today that kind of job would likely go to an intern, but since interns weren’t used back then, they brought me in for a summer job and I got to stick around after that.

So you’re a gamer first? 
Yeah, I’ve always spent most of my time playing games, which has made all the years I’ve spent working on game magazines dream jobs. Being paid to play and write about games? And getting to go to video-game trade shows, and get games for free? What’s better than that?

In addition to your time at “Game Players,” you were also the EIC for a very popular PlayStation magazine called “PSM.” Those were pretty awesome magazines. What memories could you share from those experiences?
Geez, there’s so many. Going to E3…meeting my heroes in game development…getting to play big games before anyone else. For a gamer, it was a really charmed life. But the work of simply making the magazines was very memorable, too. I love working in print. I love the process, the edit teams, the camaraderie, even the late nights.

When Super Mario 64 first came into the office, a few of my coworkers and I stayed at work overnight playing it, because we just couldn’t put it down until we’d beaten it. I remember meeting celebrities like director John Singleton at E3 parties on Sony’s movie backlots. Getting to work with the best comic book artists (comics were always my other passion) on covers for “PSM.” I’ve been really fortunate to have had so many amazing opportunities.

One specific memory that comes to mind: “Game Player’s”—or as it was later known, “Ultra Game Players”—was a pretty by-the-book game magazine when I got the opportunity to become editor-in-chief. While working on one of my first couple of issues as EIC, I was looking for letters to go into the letters section and Bill Donohue, the managing editor, showed me a drawer where he kept all of the reader mail that had been too nutty to consider running. Those letters were hilarious, and Bill and I decided to put them all in. The magazine really changed after that and the new, crazy approach really clicked with readers.

How did you get the job as “Nintendo Power” EIC?
When Nintendo chose Future to take over publication of the magazine, I was already on hand as an experienced editor-in-chief and lifelong Nintendo fanatic. It literally was my dream job—I’d read “Nintendo Power” like crazy when I was an NES-loving kid—and my publisher knew it, so I didn’t even have to lobby for the position.

How long were you EIC for “NP”? 
For around five years. After that I took on another project at Future and wasn’t very involved with “NP,” while the executive editor, Steve Thomason, did the heavy lifting and eventually took over as EIC. I really miss working on the magazine. I was thrilled to come back and contribute a little to the final issue.

last-nintendo-power-and-first
The staff of “NP” paid homage to the very first issue (on the left) with the the final cover.

How did you determine what goes on the cover of a magazine?
When choosing a cover topic (usually a single big game), we first look at the games coming out within the next several months, because not many people will buy a magazine with a cover based on a game that’s already available—if they were interested in the game, they’d just buy or rent it. Out of those upcoming games, we look for a title that the widest possible audience will care about, for which we can also support with a compelling article (usually this means getting exclusive info, screens, etc.).

We always keep the unique tastes of our readership in mind. On “Nintendo Power,” for instance, putting a Mario or Zelda game on the cover was a no-brainer because those franchises were so widely beloved in the Nintendo community. But when we risked going with a cover game that felt far removed from how most fans think of Nintendo—like our covers for the Wii console versions of “Silent Hill,” “Avatar,” and “Indiana Jones”—we didn’t do so well. We would sometimes put a not-so-well-known game on a cover because we really believed in it and wanted to make sure players didn’t overlook it, but that challenged us to present it in a creative way to make sure people took notice.

What is your favorite Nintendo system? Why?
I’d pick the NES for pure nostalgia, and maybe the Wii U for modern gaming goodness. The latter has only just come out and hasn’t yet had time to build a legendary game library, but I really love the functionality and I think we’re going to see some amazing stuff on it.

I’d pick the Nintendo 3DS system as my top handheld, since pretty much every one of Nintendo’s portable systems is better than the one before it. And although that system is still relatively new, there are at least a handful of true triple-A first-party classics on it already.

What was your favorite game?
That’s so difficult to answer. I usually say “Super Mario World.” My favorite series is definitely “Super Mario,” followed closely by “The Legend of Zelda.” Outside of Nintendo games, I’ve always dug the “Metal Gear” series. “Uncharted” and “God of War” are also favorites.

Why are Nintendo fans so…committed?
First and foremost, Nintendo has consistently made great, history-making games for over two decades, and those games have always been exclusive to Nintendo platforms. It’s been a much more consistent and inclusive evolution. Nintendo games also tend to have a lot in common, since they share the same development teams and are built from the same philosophies. You can easily identify what would and wouldn’t fit with the Nintendo brand.

On the other hand, Xbox—and to a somewhat lesser extent, PlayStation—have been more of the gaming equivalent of the VCRs that play the movies. Each has quality exclusives, but these systems/communities were primarily built on cross-platform games, which waters down their brands a little. I’m not saying that it’s inherently better to focus more on first-party or on third-party software, but I think that Nintendo gaming is clearly defined by the unique importance of its first-party titles and brands.

Any crazy deadline crunches you remember?
The worst deadline crunches I ever faced came within the first couple years of doing “Nintendo Power.” After pretty much not sleeping during the production of our first two issues, I had honestly gotten to the point where, for the first time ever, I thought that maybe the job wasn’t the best thing in the world.

During that stretch I missed my daughter’s first Halloween night of trick-or-treating. But by our third and fourth issues we got into a better groove, and even as our last-minute crunches continued, we were mostly having a blast.

Chris-Slate-Nintendo-Power
“My favorite series is definitely ‘Super Mario,’ followed closely by ‘The Legend of Zelda’.”

How about a brush with greatness? Ever meet Miyamoto? What was he like?
I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great game developers. I had dinner with Tomonobu Itagaki in Japan when he was first conceptualizing what the new “Ninja Gaiden” series would be like, and I got to hear him toss around ideas before full development had begun, which was a real treat. I ate steaks with Hideo Kojima (creator of the “Metal Gear Solid” series) and got to pelt him with questions about the “Metal Gear” series the whole time. Afterward we went and sang karaoke.

But I was never as starstruck as the times I met Shigeru Miyamoto. Like so many other people, it was his games that made me a gamer in the first place, going all the way back to “Donkey Kong.” I first got to say a quick hello to him during my first trip to Japan, at a reception following the unveiling of the Nintendo 64.

Through the years I would bump into him from time to time, I got to do a couple of interviews, and once I got up the courage to ask him to sign the copy of “Super Mario Bros.” that had turned me into a gamer back when I was a kid, and he happily obliged. That cartridge hangs on a wall in my office at home, right over my computer.

What advice would you give people who want to get into the gaming press?
For me, it was a total fluke. The Internet wasn’t going yet, and the country’s only video-game magazine happened to be published out of my hometown. But today it’s so much easier. If you want to write about games…just write about games! Start a website, start a blog, jump on Twitter, or join up with someone who’s already doing it. It’s important to really commit, to not only produce good work, but to produce work consistently.

You can’t build an audience or earn relationships with game companies with a halfhearted approach. And since there’s a lot of competition out there, you have to be creative; find an editorial angle or approach that has unique value. You don’t necessarily need an all-encompassing website with a reviews section, news section, etc. Take, for example, the Zero Punctuation video reviews or the Angry Video Game Nerd comedy short films.

When I started, a magazine or newsletter was the only way to build a community, but now the options seem endless. Explore them all and find your niche.

You’ve been a Nintendo and “Nintendo Power” fan from way back. From a fan’s perspective how sad are you to see the magazine retired? 
Super sad. But ya know, all good things must come to an end. I’d have loved to work on “Nintendo Power” forever, and as a fan, I’d have loved to subscribe to it forever. But the fact is that times have changed quite a bit since the magazine launched over two decades ago. Back then, “Nintendo Power” was basically the Internet for Nintendo fans—it was our only way to feel connected and learn about new games. But today there are so many other ways to achieve what “NP” set out to do.

Nintendo-Power-Goodbye-Letter
Chris and Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime broke the bad news through a personal letter to Nintendo subscribers.

Nintendo does a great job building websites around its games, and they’ve been kicking butt on social media lately. The Nintendo word is getting out in a big way. And Miiverse—the social network built into the Wii U console’s operating system—offers a fantastic way to connect with folks and talk Nintendo right there on your system. I think there was still good value in “Nintendo Power,” but there are a lot of great initiatives ready to fill the void and take what “Nintendo Power” started to whole new levels.

Thanks for the interview, Chris!
If you’re interested in getting into the games business, why not get started now? Attend a tech camp next summer and learn how to design video games, or become an artist and learn how to make a magazine. As Chris points out, there are more options than ever before for people who want to get into gaming and media.

The last issue of “Nintendo Power” is on newsstands now.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog,Video Game Design and have No Comments

The Greatest Movie & Movie Maker Ever


Hitchcock. The name is the stuff of Hollywood legends…and he remains one of the most intriguing personalities in Hollywood history.


Known as the Master of Suspense, Hitchcock was the Steven Spielberg of his day. Can you tell which is the real Hitchcock? Hint, he’s the one in black and white. Sir Anthony Hopkins (on the left) plays Hitchcock in the 2012 film of the same name.  

By the mid-1950s, Alfred Hitchcock was already acknowledged by Tinsel Town as a master of suspense and had created some of the best movies ever made.

Films like Notorious, Rear Window, and Suspicion put the director well above his peers of the day. The director also popularized the term “MacGuffin” and the technique. Recently the filmmaker returned to theaters, this time in the biopic Hitchcock, and while the movie hasn’t exactly set the box office on fire, it has gotten Hollywood talking about (another) Oscar nomination for Sir Anthony Hopkins and his co-star Helen Mirren.

So what’s the attraction to this old school filmmaker?

A Star on Both Sides of the Camera
Through his 1950s TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock made himself a star. The tubby and bald Hitchcock (always dressed in a formal dark suit and tie, like a mortician) had a dry and wicked sense of humor.

He spoke in a thick British accent, and gracefully introduced each of the short thrillers his program showcased. He was unlike anything else American TV audiences had ever seen, and the show made him famous as a television host, completely independent of his fame as a director.


Film audiences already knew a Hitchcock in part from cameos in each of his suspense movies. TV audiences learned quickly the director could also be outrageously funny.

By the late 1950s Hitchcock was solidly established as one of Hollywood’s most dependable money-makers. So it may come as a shock to learn that Paramount Studios had virtually no faith in Hitchcock’s next project—an adaptation of a book about murder and madness in a rundown motel. In fact, it made no sense to any studio execs why the Robert Bloch novel shocker titled Psycho  was such a labor of love for Hitchcock.

That’s the story behind the new Hitchcock—the tension between “Hitch” and the studio honchos as Hitchcock tries to get his cinematic classic made. What will the master director risk in order to gamble on making a modern masterpiece? And how will the public react to such a risky piece of filmmaking?

How Psycho Broke the Mold
Psycho was revolutionary for Hollywood filmmaking on many levels. Here are a few ways Hitchcock challenged the format of the day:

  • The female is lead is killed off only a half hour into the film.
  • The movie boldly showed a bathroom shower scene (very daring for 1960) and the murder there.
  • It was a big-studio feature that chose black-and-white photography at a time when nearly all Hollywood films had switched to color.

 
Two years before Psycho Hitchcock made another future classic, the psychological drama Vertigo. The film, about a former police detective obsessed with the image of his late wife, has been championed by today’s most respected directors, including Martin Scorsese, who presided over a careful 1996 restoration of the original film. The film is probably best known for its dramatic use of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as a setting for some of the movie’s key scenes.

The Greatest Movie…Ever?
Recently the respected British film magazine “Sight & Sound” announced the results of its 2012 poll of film directors and critics. Since 1952, and in each decade following, the magazine has conducted the poll, which asks film folks to list the greatest films ever made. Critic Roger Ebert has called it “by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies—the only one most serious movie people take seriously.”


Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo was recently named the best all-time motion picture.

This year’s poll created a sensation when the long-established top film of all time, Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane, was dethroned by a Hitchcock film—and it was not Psycho (which many fans consider his most powerful work). Instead, the film that was most universally admired in the “Sight & Sound” poll was 1958’s Vertigo, starring Hitchcock-favorite James Stewart and Kim Novak.

A Living Legacy
Alfred Hitchcock received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, but never won a Best Director Oscar, nor did any of his films ever win “Best Picture.” No matter; for anyone interested in learning movie making and film production, Hitchcock remains an important and inspirational figure. The 57 films he made over the course of his 54-year career are treasured as some of Hollywood’s finest and most enduring creations.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Best 2012 Cyber Monday Tech Deals


Looking for the best Cyber Monday deals around? We’ve found them—and you won’t have to camp out in front of your favorite retailer to get them.


Open the best gift ever…the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. 

With sales for the 2012 Black Friday shopping day already in the books as a record-breaker, online sales are expected to rise 15 percent this year to $68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research. Cyber Monday is the sales holiday online retailers use to attract shoppers and this year’s deals are unbeatable.

Best MacBook Pro Price
Get a top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display for $2,299.00 from Digital Media Academy today only. The MacBook normally retails for $2,799.00 new. The MacBooks that DMA is offering are sold as like-new computers since these machines were only used for a few short weeks this summer in their tech camp, but they are fully refurbished and completely returned to like-new status.

Best Tablet Price
Use the promo code FIREDEAL at Amazon‘s checkout and get a Kindle Fire for $129.00. The color, WiFi-enabled tablet is small enough to fit in a purse but large enough to play a few hours of Angry Birds without losing your eyesight. Amazon’s also offering a great Cyber Monday deal on Canon cameras, DSLR lenses and accessories.

Best Flat-Panel Price
Walmart is offering football fans a reason to upgrade their current TV. Get a Samsung 55-inch 1080p Class LED Smart 3D HDTV for $1,498.00 ($1,000.00 savings) or a Samsung 40-inch 1080p Class LED HDTV for $598.00 (nearly $400.00 saving). Walmart is also selling a Xbox 360 Skylanders Family Fun Bundle for $159.00. That’s a 4-GB Xbox console AND the Skylanders game for that price. A great deal.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog and have No Comments